The U.S. Commerce Department divides candy into two basic product categories: chocolate and nonchocolate. Each category is, in turn, broken out into several product segments and types. Product typing is based on the product's combination of ingredients and texture, as well as its manufacturing process. The classifications used within the candy industry are loosely based on the definitions established by the Commerce Department, although they generally are broader.
Chocolate candies contain as an ingredient either real chocolate or a chocolate concoction that incorporates substitutes for certain chocolate components. Most commonly, dairy butter or vegetable shortening is used to extend the more expensive cocoa butter. The chocolate category includes products such as chocolate candy with inclusions, enrobed or molded chocolate candies, and panned chocolate candies.
Nonchocolate candies are defined by the government as all confectionery products that do not contain real chocolate or a chocolate compound as an ingredient. This category includes products such as hard candies, marshmallows, jelly beans, and licorice.
Candy-making is a seasonal business, with some marketers nearly doubling their labor force during the winter months. Until recent times, candies designed for a particular holiday—candy canes for Christmas or chocolate bunnies for Easter, for instance—were the province of specialty marketers. More recently, however, major marketers have moved into the seasonal business with special packaging for special occasions.
Consumers have become quite health-conscious and concerned about reducing their intake of sugar, fat, and other potentially harmful food ingredients. Candy marketers have responded by developing a host of sugar-free products that, as a result of technological advances in sweeteners, still give consumers the sweetness they crave. Marketers also continue to search for a palatable substitute for the saturated fat found in chocolate.